Now that it's mid-late August, countless new students are starting their freshman year, with huge smiles on their faces, luggage in tow, ready to experience their first tastes of dorm life. There are more than 20 million students currently attending college in the United States.
That's a lot of people. And anywhere that's home to that many people tends to be a breeding ground for just as many germs.
That's why it's important for students to know the best ways to stay healthy at school. While it might seem like an uphill battle, it's actually easier than you may think. If you're a new college student (or responsible for taking care of one) here are some tips we think are useful for getting -- and staying -- healthy on campus.
Wash. Then wash again.
Now, obviously, we don't need to remind you to wash after using a public restroom or blowing your nose. But considering how many people pass through (and touch) all areas of campus, there's probably a bunch of other times that warrant a thorough scrub.
- Whenever using cash and receiving change in stores. Apps like Apple Pay and Google Wallet are helping curb the problem, but even the crispest bills have probably touched plenty of hands!
- After riding escalators, pushing elevator buttons, or holding stairway handrails.
- At restaurants and convenience stores in the student union -- with all the heavy foot traffic, chances are restaurant staff are having trouble keeping up with cleaning needs.
And be sure to actually wash your hands whenever possible. Antibacterial gels and lotions are great in a pinch, but nothing can replace the cleaning and sanitizing ability of good old fashioned soap and water.
Getting ahead of it
Sickness spreads quickly when you're living in close quarters like college dorms, so it's important to make sure you stay ahead of the curve. According to a 2017 survey, while 70% of college students in the U.S. found it important to get a flu shot, only 46% of students actually got vaccinated.
And because a new flu virus circulates every year, staying up to date on your flu shots can save you a lot of trouble when flu season rolls around in December. Luckily, campus clinics typically offer flu shots as a part of their services and they're HSA-eligible, so make sure to get vaccinated.
That isn't all campus clinics have to offer. On top of revving up the flu shot engine when the season comes around, on-campus clinics offer a variety of other services for college students to stay healthy. From STI testing, to counseling and allergy help, on-campus clinic medical professionals can help you tackle any medical problem you may be having.
As a convenient and reliable resource for when you're feeling under the weather at school, campus clinics are a great place to go for quick and easy medical servicing. Clinics are usually open five days a week and are available for both appointments and walk-ins, making the accessibility unbeatable.
Lastly, make sure you're still taking care of yourself. Get eight hours of sleep a night. In college, it seems like there's always something to do -- whether it's a party or a late night study session -- but sometimes the best thing to do is rest up.
Sleep is essential to making sure your brain is running properly and your heart is staying healthy. That's because during your sleep cycle, your body repairs any damages that may have occurred throughout the day. Sleep also affects the chemicals that can make you feel hungry or full, and your insulin levels. In fact, sleeping more can actually help you stay in better shape when all that's available is dining hall "cuisine."
Staying healthy on campus might seem hard at times, but it's not impossible. Remember that you always have your campus clinic to go to if you're feeling sick, and try to stay ahead and on top of any pesky illnesses that may be going around.
Dorm room essentials
Whether you're spending steadily or saving for something big, Wage Up! is where we highlight the latest services available to buy with your HSA, every Monday on the HSA Learning Center. And for everything else about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.